“Did you see what she was wearing? She flirted with him all night. She was wasted. She asked for it.”
We’ve heard it before — and it’s all wrong. Rape is not about anything a victim did or said. It’s about power, violence and domination.
A campaign called Red My Lips is bringing this idea to the masses. Founded in 2012, the group encourages women (and men, too) to wear red lipstick and raise awareness of sexual violence and victim-blaming. The group promotes wearing red lipstick mostly in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and encourages the use of lipstick kiss tattoos and other red lipstick imagery to spread awareness.
From the group’s website:
The problem does not lie with tight or revealing clothes, makeup or “letting your guard down.” The problem lies with one person’s DECISION to overpower and violate the body and spirit of another.
Throughout the rest of the year, the campaign remains active on Facebook by sharing empowering articles, encouraging stories and inspiring photos. The group’s page tells followers to post photos of red lips if they see them out and about, like a recent photo someone posted of a coffee cup bearing a red kiss mark.
A group leader recently shared a story about a conversation with an Air Force serviceman during a long flight. They talked about victim-blaming, sexual violence and the military’s use of programs that encourage bystanders to intervene and prevent sexual violence.
“I have hope because I see MEN who are courageous and willing to engage with these issues. To look within, educate and demand more from other men,” the group leader posted.
Don’t Focus on the Victim
According to Red My Lips, victim-blaming is any remark or question that zeroes in on what a victim of sexual violence did or did not do, implying that the victim had some sort of control over the situation, was somehow responsible and could have prevented it. These notions are simply untrue, and such remarks are shaped by common myths and misconceptions about sexual violence. They can add to the shame, silence and trauma that victims of sexual assault face.
Sexual assault is never your fault. You should always get help as soon as possible if you think you may have been a victim.
Red My Lips began after its founder was raped by the friend of a housemate. The 29-year-old woman filed a police report, but she was eventually told the crime committed against her would not be prosecuted because she had been drinking. They said her assailant was unlikely to be convicted.
The Red My Lips website puts this situation in context:
“In this moment, she realized it was not ‘the system’ that fails victims of sexual violence…we ALL do. We ARE the system. What was almost more shocking than this realization was the response from friends and family who suggested that the attack was a mere ‘misunderstanding,’ or attempted to frame it as a natural consequence of ‘not being careful enough.’”
As Halloween approaches tonight, stay safe as you enjoy the costumes and the parties. And don’t forget to wear the red lipstick with pride.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault, Jessica Pride can help you get your power back. She is a San Diego attorney who focuses on seeking justice for sexual assault victims in civil court. In many instances, it may be the only time a perpetrator is truly held accountable for his actions.
Jessica will fight to get you the justice you deserve. Contact her today.